An Arapahoe County District judge has imposed what is believed to be the longest human trafficking sentence ever handed down in the country.
On Oct. 27, the judge ruled Franklin was a habitual offender, enhancing his sentence. A jury found Franklin guilty of 30 counts on March 24.
“A nearly 500 year-to-life prison sentence, one of the longest in American history for such a crime, is a clear message that Colorado is closed to the business of human trafficking. To those who view others as little more than sexual objects to be exploited for monetary gain take heed: The best trained, most aggressive law enforcement officers are here looking for you. The most-experienced and dedicated prosecutors in the country are here waiting for your case. Judges who know well how the sentences they hand down protect our community and vindicate victims are on the bench here. Our community and Colorado has no patience for the sexual subjugation of our children and the vulnerable. For a remorseless defendant—such as this one—who victimized nine women and girls, each of whom will be traumatized for the rest of their lives, we are not concerned with rehabilitation. We are focused on punishment and preventing future victims,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “The court recognized that every one of these brave victims deserves justice, and this sentence reflects that.”
“Today’s historic sentence sends the resounding message that traffickers will be held accountable by Colorado law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges,” said Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, whose office assisted with the prosecution. “This defendant used violence, drugs and manipulation to control his victims, including innocent children. The survivors in this case were incredibly brave to stand up and have their voices heard, and I am grateful they can now feel safer knowing that he will stay in prison for the rest of his life.”
A statewide grand jury returned an indictment Nov. 5, 2015, against seven people including Franklin, who was the leader of the group.
The indictment included a total of 59 counts including violations of COCCA, trafficking a minor for sexual servitude and numerous charges related to child and adult prostitution. Additional charges included distribution of controlled substances to a minor, sex assault and kidnapping.
Three girls and five women who were victimized by the human trafficking ring cooperated with the prosecution; the jury heard testimony about a ninth victim and found Franklin guilty of those charges, as well.
“He took so much from me, and I’m still fighting to get it back,” one of the victims told the judge during sentencing. “You have no idea the damage he has caused to the other women and myself.”
But “I am a survivor. I am free from the abuse,” she said. “I hope he never sees the light of day outside the prison walls.”
Judge Michaelson noted what the victims had lived through in announcing his sentence.
“There are varying degrees, but all are horrific consequences to all nine of these victims,” he said. “These are people who felt lost and are struggling. Mr Franklin damaged these people.”
Prosecutors had asked for 616 years but were satisfied with the court’s sentence.
“Any sentence that treats these women as individuals, and not as disposable pieces of property like the defendant did, is enough,” said Deputy District Attorney Kelley Dziedzic, who prosecuted the case with Assistant Attorney General Janet Drake. “More than anything, what we are pleased to see is a sentence that reflects the extraordinary work that law enforcement put into this investigation, and the extraordinary courage shown by each woman.”